Where is 21st century Latin American fiction heading?

A screenshot of the collaborative online translation project “Palabras errantes” presented at the seminar.

A screenshot of the collaborative online translation project “palabras errantes” presented at the seminar.

What are the new trends in Latin American fiction? Can we go beyond the general conviction that, after the ‘60s “boom”, Latin American fiction experienced a steady decline both in the quality and quantity of literary works produced? How are researchers, librarians and publishers reacting to this in the UK? These and many more questions were answered at the seminar 21st Century Fiction from Latin America  held on Wednesday 12th of February 2014 at Senate House, London.

The panorama of 21st Latin American fiction is hugely vast and exciting, as was evidenced by the very stimulating contributions presented at the Seminar. Here we mention some of them. Continue reading

Inspector Montalbano

Many of us will have been hooked by Luca Zingarelli’s portrayal of Inspector Montalbano in RAI TV’s recent adaptations. Set in Sicily, excellently cast and scripted, these detective stories have been one of the highlights of BBC 4’s foreign language drama series, cleverly broadcast with subtitles rather than dubbed, thus retaining the magic of the original.

Andrea Camilleri, born in Porto Empedocle, Sicily, in 1925, wrote his first in a long series of novels featuring the character of Inspector Montalbano, in 1994. Hugely popular, these novels and short stories, set in Vigata, a thinly disguised version of his birthplace, have captured the public’s imagination and have graduated from being popular bestsellers to being part of the canon of contemporary Italian literature. Continue reading

Clemens Brentano at Newnham College Library

Romanzen_von_Rosenkranz

Page from the manuscript of Romanzen von Rosenkranz. By kind permission of The Principal and Fellows of Newnham College Cambridge.

Back in November 2007, an exhibition celebrating European Languages special collections in Newnham College Library brought to attention the Library’s significant collection of material relating to the German Romantic writer, Clemens Brentano (1778-1842). This collection was given to the college by Miss Edith Renouf (NC 1881), whose grandfather was Christian Brentano, brother of Clemens. The collection contains a number of early editions of the works of Brentano and his circle, including works by Achim von Arnim,  Bettina von Arnim (née Brentano), Joseph von Görres and Ludwig Tieck, as well as several  books by the eighteenth-century writer Sophie von La Roche (1730-1807), the grandmother of Clemens, Christian and Bettina Brentano. Continue reading

Albert Camus : a collecting history

The University Library collects a great deal of work by and about Albert Camus. In 2013, the 100th anniversary of his birth, he is indisputably an important literary figure whose influence extends beyond French literature. Gallimard recently estimated that sales of works by Camus now exceed 22 million copies. L’étranger has sold 8 million copies, La peste more than 4 million.

However, when his first books were published, how were his contemporaries—librarians, academics, and the book-buying and reading public—to know that Camus would become such an important figure? Similarly, how can librarians now know who will be the Camus of the current generation of novelists? The University Library actively collects works of contemporary French literature, but its collections are, by necessity, imperfect and incomplete. We cannot buy all important authors in their first edition, nor can we even identify them all as they are still writing and publishing.

Some of the UL's earliest received Camus books.

Some of the UL’s earliest received Camus books.

The example of Camus provides an insight into the importance of the decisions of language librarians working to create a great collection of literature, as well as the activities of the UL’s Legal Deposit English-language material to supplement these decisions. Continue reading